I’ve been back in Vietnam now for a few weeks and I’m getting settled in. Previously I was writing from the USA. Now I’m back in the country and ready to take on new challenges and new tasks.

There are a few things that I’ve noticed that are worth mentioning in a passing way, I’ll not take up numerous blog posts in this manner, but felt it worth doing once.

Nitrous Oxide is legal and available for use for a couple dollars a hit at the backpacker area. This is bizarre for a country so strict on drug enforcement and worried about its image as an international upright state. To let foreigners, and even locals, imbibe in dangerous chemicals on the street, strange.

Construction is booming. All over Ho Chi Minh City there are new buildings going up. There are a couple buildings from years ago that haven’t been completed, and have entered the Bangkok popular standing zombies phase. But for the most part, HCMC is a booming real estate market.

The Metro is eating up real estate downtown as it is currently still under construction. Lots of prime property is being monopolized by the construction, though it is only a matter of time before that land is reclaimed and built up in true capitalist fashion.

Fast food franchises from the United States didn’t catch on as they were anticipated to do. McDonald’s is still only running with a few franchise stores, Burger King has all but disappeared. Carl’s Jr. well, they didn’t last. Starbucks has a few storefronts, but nothing like the ubiquity they have in Bangkok. Coffee is too popular and too cheap other places for Starbucks to be anything more than a premier brand.

I usually sit at Highlands, if I’m going for a name brand café, or at even cheaper places near my apartment. It’s not worth five dollars for an iced milk coffee when I can get the same thing, sans air conditioning and sans the brand, for seventy-five cents.

Japan seems to have colonized have of District 1. There seems to be an overabundance of Japanese establishments, run by Viets, that cater to Japanese investors and businessmen. This is fine, but this is Vietnam, not Japan.

Otherwise much is the same. A lot has changed since I first set foot in Vietnam back in 2003, and so have I, but there’s still a lot that remains. The people are generally good, the food excellent, the city crowded with motorbikes and taxis, the air is getting worse, but it was never great, and the city is rising. It’s a metropolis, an exciting place, and a place in which investment is appreciated and worthwhile.